Loch Ness set to host world water speed record attempt

The usually tranquil Loch Ness will be home of a world water speed record attempt Picture: Jane Barlow
The usually tranquil Loch Ness will be home of a world water speed record attempt Picture: Jane Barlow
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AN adventurer is planning to use the iconic Loch Ness as a testing ground for his bid to break the world water speed record.

Nigel Macknight is aiming to hit 350mph with the Quicksilver craft and beat the 317.58mph mark set by Australian Ken Warby in the 1970s.

The Quicksilver speedboat designed by Nigel Macknight

The Quicksilver speedboat designed by Nigel Macknight

And he is considering using what was the scene of a world water speed attempt tragedy to put the boat through its paces.

Famous British racing driver John Cobb died on Loch Ness in 1952 when a flaw in his vessel’s bow caused it to collapse and nosedive.

The 52-year-old’s boat, Crusader, was travelling at more than 200mph when it crashed.

Mr Macknight has spent the past 28 years designing and building his turbofan-powered “superboat”.

Nigel Macknight

Nigel Macknight

His world record bid will take place on Coniston Water in the Lake District within the next two years – the scene of another famous tragedy when Donald Campbell tried beating his own record.

But before that he will have to run the 40ft, 3.5-tonne vessel elsewhere as no testing is allowed on Coniston.

And he revealed that Loch Ness is “a possibility” for putting the boat through its paces.

He said: “I am confident we can break the record. When a record has stood for the best part of 40 years, it’s more likely to be beaten. Technology has moved on a lot in that time.

“You have to have respect for the danger, but I don’t think you go through what you are doing with too many nerves because getting the boat designed and built has been a huge job, consuming thousands of hours of my life.”

READ MORE: The history behind Loch Ness

Lincolnshire-based Mr Macknight will outline his plans at a special event at Eden Court theatre in Inverness next month.

The challenge of breaking water speed records was pioneered in the UK by Malcolm Campbell, who was the first person to top 300mph on land and subsequently broke the water speed record four times prior to World War II.

He died in 1949, but his son Donald took over his father’s mantle and broke the water speed record seven consecutive times using the famous Bluebird model.

Donald attempted to break the record for an eighth time in 1967 as he knew the Americans were catching up in the water-speed race, but tragically died in his attempt at Coniston water.

Within six months of his death he was proven right, when a team of Americans broke his record of 276.3mph.

Since Ken Warby set the new record in 1978, two attempts have been made by American drivers, in 1981 and 1989, but both ended in tragedy.

Mr Macknight has made his boat 50% bigger than the Bluebird model used by the Campbells.

It has a one-tonne, 10,000bhp Rolls Royce engine positioned at the front for extra stability.

The 60-year-old said: “We are looking for people to come forward from the time of the Cobb disaster.

“It will be a big thing for people in the north of Scotland, particularly for those living around Inverness and Loch Ness.”

His presentation at Eden Court will take place on April 20 from 7pm-9pm in the La Scala Cinema.

Mr Macknight also plans to visit the memorial to Mr Cobb, which stands by the side of Loch Ness near Urquhart Castle.

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